NB: How did you choose the first group to come meddle?
TP: “When the idea for the Meddle popped up, [I decided] that the easiest way to put a Meddle together would be to pick an influential person – who I call the ‘Middle Meddler’ – and let them tell me what problem they were yearning to solve. Then I’d do my thing and hand-pick a group of other influencers who want to solve the same problem – and would be excited to get together and solve it together. Finally, we’d all reach out to our fans and followers via social media, and ask them to help us solve the problem – in real-time.
“[For the first Meddle], it started with me asking my copywriter Mike Reed if he’d be my first Middle Meddler [Mike also came up with the name]. Mike decided that the problem he wanted to solve was: how can creatives who have client-focused businesses find more time to work on their passion projects?
“Mike has a whole bunch of interesting ones including a novel, a children’s book, poetry, an urban people-sketching project. Plus, he’s one of the busiest copywriters in Europe. The man needs help. And he’s not alone. That’s partly why he picked the topic.
“So, I started hunting for the right creatives to join him in solving that problem. I wanted to find folks from different disciplines who’d, together, look almost like a multi-disciplinary creative shop. [They work with] a variety of crafts.
“[In my job as a matchmaker], I spend a lot of time thinking about who would fit together, from a personality perspective. I wanted to do that with Meddle, too. If you put the right combination of personality types together in a room, the things that happen in that room are exponentially more interesting and valuable than what happens when it’s not the right combination. So, I reached out to my favorite personality and group dynamics expert, Ann Holm, to help me understand, on a deeper level, the implications of me adding person X to the group. She’s a Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner and extraordinarily intuitive about how any group of two or more people might interact and get along.”
NB: How do you get creative people from different disciplines and mediums to talk in a mutual understandable language?
TP: “Well, this is a passion-focused event. You know what happens when you lock a bunch of chocaholics in a room with a giant Hershey’s Kiss [chocolate bar]: three-feet across, and no utensils or tools? They figure out a way to chop it up and gulp it down. Nothing will deter them from their task.
“I haven’t seen this with my own eyes, but I’ve read a few peer-reviewed, scientific monographs on the subject."
NB: What's the best outcome you could hope for from the first event?
TP: “We figure out one thing we can do to help a lot of creatives pursue their passion projects. Then we do it. Or, we set the wheels in motion in such a way that it gets done sometime after the Meddle is over.
“It’s not just us solving the problem. It’s all the people in our social networks who decide to help us, live, during the Meddle.
NB: Why is it so important for creative people to engage with and learn from those outside they consider to be the boundaries of their disciplines?
TP: “It’s simple – you get something new and interesting. Put two sculptors together and you probably get two sculptures. Put a sculptor and an arc welder together and you probably get a sculpture the likes of which nobody has ever seen before.”
NB: Could you give us your favourite example of how people from very different backgrounds coming together has led to creating something wonderful?
TP: “That’s the easiest question I’ve ever been asked. Martha Graham and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring (below).”
Meddle's indentity was designed by Daniel Bull.